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Pakistani TV Host Fired After Accusing Couples of Immorality

A Pakistani TV host has been fired following a controversial episode of her morning program where she bombarded young couples and demanded to know whether they were engaged in immoral behavior.

Host Maya Khan of Samaa TV walked around a park in Lahore, Pakistan asking couples whether or not they were married or engaged and if their parents knew they were in the park together. In one scene, Khan dared to ask one couple to show her their wedding certificate after they had already told her they were married.

Just hours after the show's Jan. 17 broadcast, several online petitions from viewers were up demanding that Khan, the "vigil-auntie," be fired from Samaa.

Some viewers said the show was reminiscent of Pakistan in the 1980s under the rule of Islamist dictator Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, where police could ask to see a couple's wedding certificate and threaten imprisonment.

Others accused Khan of signaling out poorer Pakistanis over the rich and powerful with western-leaning lifestyles.

The outspoken host, who called critics of her show "an elite class that don't even watch my show," remained unapologetic at first, but later apologized in a clip played on Samaa TV saying, "I never intended to make you teary-eyed or hurt you."

Khan and members of her production team were canned after refusing to deliver an unconditional apology, according to the station.

But not everyone is satisfied with Khan's punishment.

Four non-governmental organizations announced they are filing a civil suit against Samaa TV in Pakistan's supreme court.

"Journalists don't have the right to become moral police. We need to draw a line," Adnan Rehmat of Intermedia, a media development organization who was behind one of the petitions, said in a statement.

Pakistan is still a very traditional Islamic republic where conservative Muslim values on women and couples in public places still dictate the lives of the people.

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